School of Engineering (Okanagan campus)
What is your educational background?
All three of my degrees (BEng, MEng and PhD) are from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. My MEng thesis was on the Atkinson cycle engine, while my PhD thesis was on the optimisation of wind turbine placement using computational fluid dynamics simulation.
My father, who to this day still works in the engineering company he founded, inspired me. As a child I was awed by the things he built. Whenever I was given a challenge to build something, such as for a school project, what I made was never as impressive as I wanted it to be. So I would ask my father for help, and he would always turn my pitiful prototype into something that worked smoothly and survived the rigours of transport, set up and demonstration. Even in recent years, whenever I work with him on commercial projects, I still admire many of his designs, which epitomize elegance and reliability.
I started out merely with the goal to acquire some overseas academic experience. I chose Canada because after reading as much as I could about various potential destinations, I felt that this country is a place where inclusivity and receptivity to people from all backgrounds are very well established. I applied to universities throughout Canada that had vacancies which I felt I would be the right fit for me. UBCO offered me this instructor’s position, and I was delighted to accept it. The realisation that the Okanagan is a beautiful place with moderate climate came only much later.
What are your research interests?
On the pedagogy side, my interest is in online and blended delivery of courses. Being new in Canada, I would first like to gain an understanding of the attitudes towards, and current practices in, this mode of delivery. To that end, I have joined the UBCO Online Teaching Community. Once I have a better idea of the state of practice here, I plan to propose a project and conduct research in this area.
On the engineering side, my interest is in building an enclosed narrow-track electric vehicle. I have recently secured the donation of a tilting three-wheel motorcycle frame and, together with another instructor, have two capstone project teams working on it. One team is responsible for the enclosure and mechanical subsystems, while the other is responsible for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
How do you hope your work will impact society?
According to a recent Transportation Association of Canada report, Kelowna has the highest per capita ownership of light duty vehicles and a high proportion of commuters in single occupancy vehicles. As a result, on-road transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases here.
Using a three-wheel tilting motorcycle as a base vehicle offers many advantages. First, with tandem seating — one seat behind the other — the vehicle is long and slender, resulting in very low drag. Secondly, the frontal area of tandem seating is half (or less than half) that of a standard compact commuter car, reducing drag even further. This low drag reduces the battery capacity required to achieve a useful vehicle range. This means that charging times are reasonable even when a domestic electrical outlet is used, eliminating the need for a specialized charging infrastructure — a frequent barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
We estimate that the fuel economy will be 0.72 litres of equivalent electricity per 100 km (Le/100km), or 326 mpg. Consequently, the CO2 emission will be about 0.16 g/100km, using electricity from the local supplier FortisBC. Parking requirements throughout the city will also be reduced and if BC legalises lane-splitting (like in many other jurisdictions around the world), it also delays the need for costly road expansions. I feel that is a solution that is good for the environment, the city planners, taxpayers, and the family budget. Unfortunately, funding for the project has been limited so far but I am trying my best to overcome this obstacle.